Meetings on Sept. 10 and 14 to explain need for new Town of Wheatland Fire Department station

Exterior views of the proposed new station. /courtesy of new fire station committee

Town of Wheatland Fire Department officials will present their case for the town building a new multi-million fire station in New Munster at two public informational meetings next week.

The meetings will be held at the current TWFD station, 34011 Geneva Road, New Munster on Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. and Sept. 14 at 9 a.m.

The Town Board agreed to let the fire department make its case for implementing a plan developed by a committee made up of fire department representatives, town Supervisor Kelly Wilson and Scherrer Construction, but a majority of board has asked to see a less expensive proposal.

Fire Chief Lou Denko has said the current proposal was designed to meet the department’s needs for 50 years. Plans show a 16,757 square feet building with n estimated cost of $3.76 million.

“We want to do this right,” said Denko. “There’s nothing fancy about this project. It’s practical.”

Some of the components of the new station that are not present in the current station include:

  • An all weather area for washing trucks indoors. Frequent washing should help truck life.
  • Storage of turnout gear where it is not exposed to truck exhaust.
  • Dedicate places to wash turnout gear and showers for personnel. Cleaning of gear and people is more important than ever with exposure to modern building materials and furnishings, Denko said.
  • A mechanics bay that will facilitate department members making appropriate repairs themselves.
  • Sleeping quarters. While there are no plans to staff personnel at the station overnight, it may become a necessity in the future. In the meantime, those facilities might be used to keep personnel in station during adverse weather conditions, such as have been experienced this winter.
  • One extra bay that could be used for an ambulance, hazardous waste response equipment and/or a rescue boat.
  • A shared office for the chief and assistant chief and another computer equipped work room for other department members that have clerical duties.
  • A day room, where members can decompress after calls as needed.
  • A training room that could allow the department to house training without having to pull equipment out of the bays.

However, there has been little support on the Town Board for the full proposal. Town Chairman Bill Glembocki and Supervisor Andrew Lois have said they would like to see the project cost pared by at least $1 million or more if possible. The other supervisor, Wilson, is a member of the committee that developed that plan and has voiced support for the project.

Denko said at an August meeting that he hopes through these informational meetings to make the case to the public for new station as proposed.

“We take pride in what we do,” Denko said. “We’re part of the community too … There’s a lot of thought that went into this. We have reasons for the things we’ve asked for.”

The current station is 42 years old. The new station is proposed to be built on town-owned land just south of the current station.

Glembocki said he would like Denko to report back to the board after the meetings and the board can consider next steps. Glembocki also has endorsed holding a referendum on the project.

Floor plan of the new station /graphic courtesy of new fire station committee

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